Whats Your Opinion of Gerry Ritz as Canada’s Ag-Minister?

In the last year I have been fortunate to travel across the country talking to farmers and ag-stakeholders about our Canadian agricultural industry.  One of the topics that I have observed is the opinion of the job that Gerry Ritz is doing as the Canadian Agriculture Minister.

It is my perception that the opinion of his job so far in this role is below expectations and some would argue that he is not effective.

  • When I talk to Ontario farmers many times they say, “Ritz only cares about Western Canadian issues.”
  • When I talk to left wing Western Canadian farmers they say, “Ritz is all about protecting the interests of big farms.”
  • When I talk to right wing Western Canadian farmers they say, “Ritz has been ineffective extinguishing the single desk of the Canadian Wheat Board.”
  • A couple Canadian ag-media have said to me that, “Ritz is just about, blah blah blah”

I know that this is not how all farmers or stakeholders feel but it is what I have listened to and observed.  Personally I think there is some needed criticism of Gerry Ritz but at the same time there have been some good like the EU free trade agreement as well.  Some would argue that because many groups appear to be dissatisfied, then he is doing his job properly. Or is he just receiving the brunt of the fact that people upset are with politicians in general.

SEE GERRY RITZ’s SCRUM FROM CROPWEEK

Based on the simple fact RealAgriculture.com has readers from across Canada, I would like to get your opinion.  Please vote in the poll below and lets see what our readership thinks.


 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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7 Comments

Philip Shaw

Gerry Ritz may be a very good guy, dunno, but his policies for Ontario are very poor, totally against the “scrap the CAIS program” sentiment echoed by PM Harper on a SW Ontario farm before the Cons got their minority mandate. PM Harper has that slogan stamped on his forehead in Ontario farm country. As it stands now, Ritz is losing the PM votes in Ontario farm country. However, dunno if Iggy has the juice there either. What we need, I’ve said a million times. We need a female agriculture minister from Quebec. Then we’d see some real powerful agricultural policy. Dunno if that is ever going to happen.

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Stu

Ritz has done a lot of work behind the scenes opening up trade for Canadian farm products. I know of one trade mission that never made any headlines (that I saw in Western Canada anyhow).

If Ritz is guilty of anything, it’s cultivating a horrible public persona.

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Steve

Ritz comes across as an arrogant, blundering, puppet of his Reform handlers. He has a very limited, somewhat naive and simplistic view of Canadian Agriculture…and it is especially ignorant east of Manitoba. His constant pandering to Western interests (still debatable how effective the trade junkets have been) at the expense of pressing eastern needs has cost the cons ALL the goodwill it gained with the “scrap CAIS” comment by Harper. The fact that Harper uttered it on a SW Ontario farm, took our votes, and promptly reneged will cost him his rural ON seats as soon as the Libs find a somewhat charismatic leader (Dion was a gimmee)! The real opinion here centres on how absolutely redundant, spineless and neutered our ON con MP’s have been since getting to Ottawa. I am a Conservative however the hijacking by the Reform party is/has left a sore taste.

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Shaun Haney

Steve, I agree that Ritz has been ineffective but I just don’t see him pandering to reformers. Thats the curious part of this whoile debate. No matter where you go he seems to be unpopular and the finger pointing begins to where his real motives are. Thanks for the comment.

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wayne

I wonder where Steve wants things to go? Last I heard Ont. farmers could do whatever with their crops as oppossed to the CWB rules for the west!!!! It is time that we have some free trade between provinces.

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Steve

Shaun/Wayne..some explanation.

Yes, ON farmers have the luxury of marketing outside the CWB which is clearly an option which Western farmers should have in this day, age, and marketplace. I have no quarrel there. Where I do take exception is Ritz’s constant trade junkets to promote/expand predominantly Western produced commodities. ON farmers have had to contend with free and open trade with the US without the benefit of US Farm Bill support. CAIS did not and will not work for ON grain and oilseed farmers…and why Harper’s “scrap CAIS” mantra was endorsed wholeheartedly by rural ON. While this early electioneering was going on, ON and MB corn farmers were in the thick of a WTO trade action against US crop subsidy programs. The same programs were fought successfully by both Brazil and Mexico and so the precedent was set. To do nothing was to see the steady demise of the ON corn industry of the day because of the clear dumping of US corn into our market. Shortly after the first CON minority, Harper/Strahl stacked the Canadian International Trade Tribunal hearing the corn countervail case…and threw out the case at the third and final threshold (the first two easily passed)…nearly bankrupting our Corn Associations. Within a week Strahl announced his Softwood Lumber Deal with the US. Essentially Eastern corn farmers were sold out to achieve the lumber deal.

Ritz has NEVER shown his face in public in ON farm country and has clearly dismissed ANY attempt to level the playing field with our US neighbours or even discuss our situation. Even something as simple, logical, and cost effective as updating redundant and obsolete CFIA regulations that affect ON is met with disdain and apathy by Ritz.

I agree that we need more free trade between provinces, however ON’s markets are very heavily influenced by the US situation. Fortunately, US bio-fuel policy has let up ON as its favoured dumping ground.

When I speak of Ritz’s pandering to Reform ideals I refer to his export and trade agenda without understanding that trade is a two way street. In ON we have been more on the receiving end to our detriment. He seems unwilling to consider that the US Farm Bill exists, that it is not WTO compliant, and to assist ON farmers to level the playing field..either thru trade action or BRM programming. As mentioned, Brazil and Mexico have proved him wrong. He goes to the wall to support a dysfunctional and imploding SM sector but has done nothing apparent to support non SM ON farmers beyond ‘me too’ energy policy. Many feel he has totally squandered this brief interlude of high prices to initiate effective policy for when the other shoe drops….

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Steve

Sorry, couple other points.

Ritz is also under the gun in ON due to his naive and amateur handling of the livestock situation. Right or wrong, he is the point person for selling out our livestock (mainly hog) industry by not effectively tackling the US COOL legislation. His only response was to “buy out” farmers and provide them with uncollateralized interest free money…the vast majority that still isn’t paid back years later. Many ON grain and oilseed farmers would also be happy to have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest free and/or sub-prime money per enterprise for years on end…..

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